1. How do I choose an attorney?
Selecting the right attorney is critical. At The Whittemore Law Group, P.A., our relationships with those we serve are forged upon trust. In selecting an attorney, you should consider what type of relationship you would like to have with those who represent your legal needs.
Often times the attorney you see on television commercials may not be the person working on your case. You should ask any prospective attorney: who will be representing me and how much trial experience do they have?
Some law firms may be quick to settle your case and move on to the next client. However, in our firm, relationships are important. Our experienced and accessible attorneys will be committed to you and your case and will be prepared to take your case to trial, if necessary, to fight for proper compensation. It is important that your attorneys are accessible. If you have any questions at all just pick up the phone and call us, we’ll be happy to chat.
2. How do your fees work?
While fees may vary based upon the type of case, your initial consultation is free. Depending on the type of case, a contingency or a fixed hourly fee may be appropriate, and a retainer may be necessary. In a contingency fee case, the attorneys, in compensation for their time and costs, will receive a percentage of the amount that is recovered. In a contingency case, the fee is based upon the outcome of the matter for which the services are rendered. Therefore, under a contingency fee agreement, if no compensation is recovered, a fee will not be charged. The basis or rate of your fees and costs will be fully explained to you before a fee agreement is signed.
3. I’ve been in a car accident, what do I do now?
On January 1, 2013, Florida’s new PIP (Personal Injury Protection) law takes effect that will benefit insurance companies and negatively impact many Florida citizens involved in car accidents. Some important changes to the PIP law include:
- Starting January 1, 2013, the “initial treatment” must be obtained within fourteen (14) days from the accident:
That “initial treatment” and care must be lawfully provided, supervised, ordered, or prescribed by a licensed physician, D.O. (Doctor of Osteopath), Dentist or Chiropractor or provided in a hospital or in a facility that owns or is wholly owned by a hospital.
- Follow up treatment: PIP will only pay for follow up services if there was an initial treatment within fourteen (14) days and the following occurs:
- The follow up services are referred from an licensed physician, D.O, Dentist, Chiropractor, supervised Physician’s Assistant or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner.
- The follow up services are consistent with the underlying medical diagnosis rendered on the initial visit
- If the above thresholds are met, there are two (2) levels of PIP medical benefits available:
- $10,000 for an emergency medical condition.
- $2,500.00 for treatment that is not for any initially diagnosed emergency medical condition.
This means that an injured person may recover up to the full $10,000 PIP medical benefit only if a licensed physician, D.O, Dentist, supervised Physician’s Assistant or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner determines that the insured has an “emergency medical condition.” Otherwise, the PIP medical benefit is limited to $2,500.
- PIP medical benefits do not include massage therapy or acupuncture (change from old PIP laws).
- A Chiropractor cannot diagnose an emergency medical condition and thus will be limited to $2,500.00 in reimbursements for services provided unless referred by one of the specified medical professionals listed above.
The Statute defines “emergency medical condition” as: a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following:
- Serious jeopardy to the patient health.
- Serious impairment to bodily functions.
- Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.
The new PIP law puts the burden on you, as an injured victim of a car accident, to take the right steps to ensure your eligibility to receive all of the benefits to which you may be entitled under the new PIP law. It is more important than ever, to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. The Whittemore Law Group, P.A. will fight for you in challenging medical providers and insurance companies for any denial of your claims.
4. What if I go to trial and the jury finds me partially at fault for my injury?
The law in Florida allows for what is called “Comparative Fault” or “Comparative Negligence.” To better explain how this plays into the damages in a wrongful death or personal injury case, consider this example:
Joe Smith, a 65 year old, married, father of 3, takes an over-the-counter product that is advertised to relieve stress but is rumored to possibly result in adverse health effects. Independent scientific research has not confirmed that this product is dangerous. Mr. Smith develops an illness as a side effect from the product and becomes permanently disabled as a result. At trial, evidence is presented that the drug manufacturer knew the product was dangerous, but failed to share this information with consumers. Despite knowledge of the dangerous effects, the manufacturer continued to market and sell the product without disclosing these dangers to consumers. During jury deliberation, the jury may decide the defendant was 80% at fault for manufacturing the product for profit despite knowledge of its dangerous side effects and Mr. Smith was 20% at fault for taking the product despite public concern. If the jury determines the value of Mr. Smith’s damages is $10,000,000, the verdict would be reduced by the Court to $8,000,000 because of the jury’s finding that 20% of the fault should be apportioned to the plaintiff.